165.40 Criminal Poss. of Stolen Prop., and 221.05 Unlawful Poss. of Marihuana. Am i screwed?

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165.40 Criminal Poss. of Stolen Prop., and 221.05 Unlawful Poss. of Marihuana. Am i screwed?

I had a few drinks after work, walking home, stumbled on a No Parking sign, which I picked up and started walking with it, only to have a police officer pull over, as I dropped the sign,he said “Guess that isn’t yours.” I replied “No, it was lying on the sidewalk and I picked it up.” He then placed me in the back of his car, the sign in the trunk, and took me to the station. I was charged with both 165.40 Criminal Poss. of Stolen Prop., and 221.05 Unlawful Poss. of Marihuana.(half gram-ish) I live in NY state. How screwed am I? First arrest, no priors, just drunken stupidity.

Asked on June 7, 2009 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

For the unlawful possession of marijuana you are looking at a fine up to $100.  For the criminal possession of stolen property up to 1 year in jail; however, since this is your first offense and considering it was just a stop sign probably probation.

What you should do is to speak with an attorney on this.  Find one that pratices in the area of where all of this happened.  He'll have contacts in the prosecutor's office which will help.  He'll also know local custom and can give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.  He may be able to get you some form of alternative sentencing; and there's always the possibility that he could have a charge thrown out or reduced due to some technicality in the law.  Whatever the cost for counsel it will be well worth it. 

And you should know that New York does not allow for "expungement" (clearing) of criminal convictions.  This means that you will be left with a permanent criminal record.  If asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime on, for example, a job application you would have to answer "yes".  (However, if you are asked whether or not you have been convicted of a felony, you can truthfully answer "no").

Best of luck.

S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Normally, either one of these charges alone would warrant you getting an ACOD, meaning an adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, meaning if you are good for a year and do not get in trouble, they would be dismissed. However, since you received each of them at once, this may not be so easy. You may be given the opportunity to do Community Service, probably about 35-40 hours in order to have the stolen possession charge knocked down to a violation which is not a crime. The marijuana would in all likelihood be dismissed. A violation would require a fine and surcharge. Depending on your locality, ther is still a possibility that the Community Service requirment could result in an ACOD. Contact a criminal attorney in your area.

M.S., Member, Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

While this is not the "crime of the century", you should definitely consult with and/or retain a skilled criminal defense attorney to discuss this matter further.  Since you have no prior criminal history, there may be some first offender diversionary programs available to you to resolve these matters without any permanent impact on your record.  However, if it is possible to resolve these matters favorably without using one of these programs, you should  try, due to the fact that it is possible that you will need to use a program again in the future.  Once you consult with a criminal defense attorney, he/she will be able to tell you, based upon additional facts that you will provide, whether it may be possible to resolve these charges favorably without using a program.  For example, there may be a suppression issue with respect to how the officer found the drugs; or, there may be a valid defense to the possession of stolen property charge.  Nevertheless, your next step should be to schedule an appointment with a criminal defense attorney so that you can get a better handle, based upon the specific facts of your case, with respect to the best way to resolve these charges.


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